Let’s Play Heroes of Dragon Age!

For the last few months, I’ve been playing a ton of Let’s Play Heroes of Dragon Age. For professional reasons, I can’t review the game, but I’d love for you RPadholics to give it a shot. It’s available on iTunes for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices. So please, please, please give it a download and give the game some time. When you’re done with that, kindly share your (completely unfiltered) thoughts on the game in the comments section.

For those of you that need more information, Heroes of Dragon Age is a strategy game of sorts. You take a team of characters and (kind of) battle your way through different parts of the Dragon Age universe. Different periods of history are explored. There’s a huge collectible aspect to the game as well. You’ll be able to earn or buy some really cool characters — including heroes and villains from the videogames.

Here’s an excerpt from the official description:

Collect the heroes. Become a legend! Build a party of famous warriors and epic monsters from Dragon Age lore. Battle other players in strategic, CCG-inspired 3D combat. Fight bosses on engaging quests from the award-winning, dark fantasy RPG games.

Like I said, I’ve been playing a ton of Heroes of Dragon Age. Part of it is due to habits developed from work and part of it is that I’m addicted to collecting the characters (it’s the Pokemon nerd in me). I love the Dragon Age role-playing games and while I can’t say that I love Heroes of Dragon Age, I admit that I’m addicted to it — worts and all.

But I’ve probably said too much. Ha! That’s where you come in. Let’s do this as a fun group activity. I’d super appreciate it if you gave the game a whirl. Please note that the early going is slow and you’ll probably need to spend a couple of hours with it before things get interesting. At that point, I’m sure you guys and gals will have lots of interesting things to say about the game. Fire away (please)!

What Do You Think of Apple iOS 7?

Apple iOS 7 lands today and it’s arguably the biggest revamp the mobile operating system has seen in years. iOS 7 packs several new features that change the aesthetics and functionality of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Since so many of you use Apple devices, I’d love to hear your first impressions of iOS 7. If you’re not familiar with what’s coming, here are just some of the new additions (in no particular order):

Aesthetics: iOS 7 features new system fonts, brighter default colors, new sounds, and a modern, flat appearance. While it’s not as flat as Android Jellybean, it’s pretty close. While my eyes are still getting used to the font, I love the overall appearance. iOS 6 was starting to look like a dinosaur.

Safari: The default web browser finally gets a unified search bar (about frickin’ time!) and Brazzers privacy mode. It organizes multiple tabs far better than its predecessor.

Camera: The camera in iOS 7 is something I’m still getting used to. It feels really foreign to me, but I think I’ll get the hang of it in a few days. It also has a bunch of live filters for you to play with. Personally, I don’t find them useful after using the outstanding VSCO Cam.

Photos: The iOS 7 Photo app, on the other hand, was instantly useful to me. I love all the new organizational features. This is really well done.

Notifications: I always thought that Apple’s notification system was basic compared to Google Android’s. iOS 7 is a big step in the right direction, but still not as versatile or useful as what Android features.

iTunes Radio: I recall RPadholic Tokz_21 mentioning that he enjoyed this feature. I’m actually a bad person to discuss mobile streaming audio with. I don’t use it a lot and when I do, it’s Pandora, which people tell me is outdated.

Multitasking: This iOS 7 feature has me excited, but it will take me weeks to see if the improvements are legit. On paper, it should help you maximize battery life. The new multitasking feature detects whether you’re plugged in or not and whether you’re on WiFi or mobile signal. It will gobble up data and run background apps accordingly. It’s not a flashy feature, but it’s a nerd-sexy one.

Siri: Again, I’m a bad person to talk about this with, so I’m hoping you guys and dolls have more to say. I never found Siri all that useful. It’s supposed to be better than the last version, but I haven’t found it all that useful yet.

Control Center: The iOS 7 Control Center makes several commonly used features easy to access. This is definitely useful, but I’m not used to it yet. I’m still trying to do things the old way. I’m sure it will become automatic in a few days.

Your Verdict: Kindly share your initial impressions of Apple iOS 7. Please tell me what you love, what you hate, and what you’re indifferent to.

Coffee Talk #600: September Tech Awesomeness

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, anticipating the messianic return of Derek Jeter in 2014, inexplicably watching flash mob videos for hours, or the return of X-Factor USA, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: The best-selling e-reader has gotten even better. The (already awesome) screen and UI (that still needs work) have been improved. Amazon is killing this niche and the competition is dwindling. While it’s not as sexy as some of the other tech products that were announced this month, I’m really excited for the new Paperwhite. It’s cheap, easy on the eyes, and is backed by an immense library. Check out more details on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite from PaulSemel.com.

Samsung Galaxy Gear: First off, I can’t think “Galaxy Gear” without thinking about “Galaxy Glue.” Tech pundits have been predicting the rise of the Smartwatch in 2013. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is the first release from a major smartphone player. While it does some interesting and useful things, I’m not sold on it. To be fair, I’m not big on the Galaxy S series, while a large portion of the world loves them. With that in mind, a smartwatch tied to a Galaxy smartmatch/tablet doesn’t work for me. That said, there are millions of Galaxy S and Galaxy Note fans, and I’m sure that a percentage of them will be high on the Galaxy Gear. I’m really curious to get your thoughts on this…and am equally curious to hear if you think that Apple will come up with a far more elegant smartwatch product.

Apple iPhone 5c: Tech pundits predicted that Apple would release a “cheap” iPhone available in colors. It was reasoned that the colors and low price would do well in China and India. The “experts” were completely wrong. It’s easy to say through the retroscope, but I never thought that was happening. Apple generally doesn’t do “cheap” anything. Instead, the iPhone 5c is a (very) slightly improved iPhone 5 that’s available in colors. It sticks to Apple’s strategy of using last year’s model as the mid-level choice, but spruces it up with colors. The kids (like RPadholic Tokz’s sister) love colors and there will be millions of people that buy this phone because it’s available in green, blue, yellow, etc. I’m not interested in this product personally, but am super-impressed by Apple’s execution. The profit margins on the iPhone 5c will be silly and the company will make a killing selling last year’s tech in new clothing.

Apple iPhone 5s: In the past, Apple has incrementally upgraded the iPhone every other year (iPhone 4s, iPhone 3gs, etc.). This year’s model is deceptively advanced. A lot of people are paying attention to the fingerprint scanner and many are dogging it. The camera is improved too, but that’s not what’s fascinating about this product. There’s a ton of potential with the iPhone 5s’ 64-bit architecture and M7 coprocessor. The jump to 64-bit is huge and I’m anxious to see how developers take advantage of the CPU/GPU power. The M7 is used to collect all kinds of motion data from the gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer. It will lead to a new wave of inventive location-based apps. While I’m completely bored with the form factor (Can I get a bigger screen already?!?), I’m intrigued by the guts of the iPhone 5s.

PlayStation Vita Slim: It’s like the PSP Vita, but slimmer.

PlayStation Vita TVThis is the Vita product that I want. It’s a set-top box that also lets you play some Vita games — think Apple TV, but with better games and worse media services. The Vita’s library is great, but it’s also completely ignored by people that don’t like mobile consoles. This sub-$100 product would give home gamers access to that underrated library. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Sony hasn’t announced plans for this product outside of Asia. The company says it has “no plans” for North American and European releases at this time, but hopefully customers in those regions will clamor for it. I want this now!!!

Android KitKat Video Mocks Apple Jony Ive

Google has released a promotional video for Android KitKat (4.4) and it’s hilarious. The clip (embedded below) features a fictitious executive named Christopher Catlin, who is the chief breaks officer. Catlin’s tone and mannerisms are clearly a (playful?) jab at Apple senior vice president Jony Ive, the man responsible for the design of the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iOS 7.

Catlin uses elaborate descriptives to hype up…a candy bar. He eloquently waxes about the virtues of the chocolate bar’s industrial design, somewhat similarly to how Jony Ive extolled the virtues of the iPhone 5. It’s a delightfully satirical video that pokes fun at a rival…and makes me want to eat a Kit Kat bar. To be fair, I’ve also embedded Apple’s iPhone 5 trailer, which features Jony Ive. Watch both clips to see if chief breaks office Christopher Catlin is truly the Jony Ive of chocolate bars.

Here are some choice lines from the Android KitKat video:

Every corner. Every edge. Every finger of every bar has been carefully considered and crafted to create a beautifully immersive and multi-sensory experience.

With adjustable orientation, it works perfectly in portrait or landscape for a truly panoramic taste experience that will leave you up in a cloud.

It’s an extremely unequivocal 10mm thick, one finger long, and four fingers wide.

KitKat 4.4 is the perfect second-screen companion, compatible with all liquid accessories.

I’m a fan of Apple and Google, so I have no dog in this fight. That said, I found the Android KitKat video nerdily entertaining. It reminds me of pretentious reviews I’ve read for cigars and wine. My disdain for pretentious wine critics is one of the reasons I try to stick to basic terminology in my vaping e-liquid reviews.

Anyway, check out the Android KitKat clip when you have a chance and let me know what you think (please!).

Get Your Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi Headphones

The press release for the Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi line of headphones and accessories is easily the best press release I’ve received this month and one of the best I’ve received all year. I love that the pitch uses Snooki, fashion, and Walgreens in the first sentence, because nothing says high-fashion like Walgreens. Ha! Seriously though, some of the “fashionable” audio products in the Snooki Couture line include zebra earbuds and leopard-print headphones/headband. There’s also a zebra-print iPhone case, which I dare one of you to rock. Also, rhinestones.

Here’s a clip from the press release:

“Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi” now offers the much-anticipated line of “Fashion You Can Hear” headphones, ear buds and audio accessories including portable speakers, iPhone and iPad covers and other accessories all with her distinctive style such as rhinestones, sequins, feathers, neon and animal prints. Perfect for listeners of any age and savvy-style taste, iHip serves a multi-functional purpose, combining stellar acoustics with tricked-out personalized style. “Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi” brings a fresh and super-stylish perspective to her branded line with iHip. The entire line ranges from $24.99 – $59.99 and will be available at Walgreens and snookisounds.com

Normally, I would link to the product web site provided in the press release, but it currently redirects to a web page that has nothing to do with the products. That’s another dose of win for this press release. Snooki should be pissed at the PR flaks for tarnishing her name. No way she’ll be able to show up at Walgreens after this website-redirect fiasco, right?

Anyway, what do you think of the Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi line? What would you pay to see RPadholic Big Blak in Snooki Couture leopard-print headphones/headband?

Behind the Scenes Feature on Jobs (Ashton Kutcher)

The latest behind-the-scenes feature on the upcoming Jobs movie starring Ashton Kutcher has me wary of the film. Be sure to check out the clip — featuring Kutcher (Steve Jobs) and Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak) — embedded below. On the plus side, Kutcher has Jobs’ awkward strut down (it’s almost like the nerd version of WWE Vince McMahon’s silly duck walk). He looks great as young Steve and looks decent as NeXT-era Steve. As for iPod-era Steve…ouchie. To me, he looked less like Steve Jobs and more like Will Ferrell playing James Lipton on Saturday Night Live. That’s not good.

Speaking of not good, I’m not digging Kutcher’s voice. While it’s true that a limited actor can only do so much to change the sound of his or her voice, cadence is something that can be mimicked. After watching several clips of the feature, it sounds like Kutcher wasn’t even trying. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from the guy from That ’70s Show, but considering his heavy involvement in the tech world and his obvious adoration for Jobs, I thought he would have tried harder.

Let’s be real though. There are many people that find Apple so fascinating that they’re going to see Jobs no matter what. (And yes, I’m one of those people.) How about you? How does the short feature on Jobs make you feel about the movie? Excited, scared, or ready to embrace Android/Windows?

Coffee Talk #595: American Mobile Carriers, Upgrades, and You

T-Mobile shook up the American telecom business with its T-Mobile Jump program. For a $10 monthly fee, T-Mobile Jump offers two phone upgrades every 12 month, as well as insurance. Days after the program was announced, AT&T countered with AT&T Next. This program allows AT&T customers to pick up a new phone every year “with no down payment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.” The word on the street is that Verizon is whipping up its own program to compete with  AT&T Next and T-Mobile Jump. Some pundits believe that Sprint will play the generous-upgrade game too, while others believe that…more

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Tim Lincecum’s glorious no-hitter, the New York Knicks giving (Metta World) Peace a chance, or bikini girls with machine guns, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

T-Mobile shook up the American telecom business with its T-Mobile Jump program. For a $10 monthly fee, T-Mobile Jump offers two phone upgrades every 12 month, as well as insurance. Days after the program was announced, AT&T countered with AT&T Next. This program allows AT&T customers to pick up a new phone every year “with no down payment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.” The word on the street is that Verizon is whipping up its own program to compete with  AT&T Next and T-Mobile Jump. Some pundits believe that Sprint will play the generous-upgrade game too, while others believe that it has more important issues to deal with now that Softbank rules the roost.

All of you know that the four major American mobile carriers suck. They just suck in different ways. Initiatives like AT&T Next and T-Mobile jump help them suck a little bit less. While some people are thrilled with more lenient upgrade terms, others believe that these programs are just new schemes designed to get you to spend more money and extend your contracts. The mobile phone market — particularly the Android space — moves so fast that many tech nerds are thrilled with the idea of being able to upgrade phones (relatively) quickly. Don’t mistake these programs as the mobile carriers suddenly “getting it” or becoming benevolent. It’s all about trying to get more money from you every month for a longer period of time.

Personally, I’m not tempted by these programs. My main line is a grandfathered Verizon plan combined with a corporate discount — that’s too good to give up. My second line is that cheapie $30 T-Mobile plan that’s also too good to give up. Additionally, I don’t see myself buying anything but iPhones, Android Nexus phones, or Google Play Edition phones. I hate carrier bloatware and slow OS updates. All that said, I totally understand that I’m an atypical customer and can see why many people are excited about these programs.

How about you? Are you interested in AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and whatever the Sprint/Verizon equivalents will be called? Kindly share your thoughts on these programs in the comments section.